Prized - Caragh M. O'Brien
NOTE: You will want to read BIRTHMARKED, the first book in this series, to be sure you get the full effect of this story.

PRIZED picks up right where BIRTHMARKED left off. Gaia, lost and alone in the wasteland, is trying to save her sister from the people of Wharfton, but she has gone as far as she can. Weak from lack of food and completely out of baby formula, Gaia resolves herself to the idea of death. Luckily, Peter, an outrider from a near by village called Sylum, finds her and carries her to safety.

Sylum is a community ruled by women. In fact, Gaia’s own grandmother used to be the Matrarc until she died. Gaia’s relief of being rescued is soon replaced with horror when she realizes her sister has been taken from her and given to a childless couple to raise. She will not be allowed to see her until she proves she will live by Sylum’s rules of conduct. She can adhere to the strict rules or leave – but she must choose fast, because within a couple of days of entering Sylum, people come down with acclimation sickness – after you live through that, leaving Sylum will kill you.

Gaia attempts to live by the rules, but when those rules contradict her personal beliefs, she is forced to decide if she can quietly stand by and watch the community be strangled to death by the Matrarc or if she will attempt to make changes, thus risking her life. Gaia deals with ethically dilemmas and issues of the heart. Her attraction to Peter, the young man who saved her, battles her growing feelings for his brother, Will. When Leon from the Enclave shows up in Sylum, her feelings are in total chaos.

O’Brien gives the reader a lot of information and advancement to Gaia’s story in PRIZED. In my opinion, this book was just as good as the first one in the trilogy. I can’t wait to read PROMISED (the final book in the trilogy), which the author is currently revising.